People customize their bikes for any number of reasons, but two of the most common are that a) they feel something is missing from what the factory put out, or b) they want to put their personal stamp on their bike. In the case of this Suzuki Van Van 200 Fat Tire Custom Dual Sport built by Slipstream Creations in St. Louis, Missouri, it's a little bit of both.
Enthusiast opinions tend to be many, varied, and frequently passionate. One commonly-held criticism of the stock Suzuki Van Van 200 is that while it was very fun, it could have (and should have) played things a little less safe in the design department.
Instead of trying to be all mini bikes to all mini bike enthusiasts, the Van Van 200 could have gone in a more thoroughly dual sport direction, for example. Or perhaps it could have gone thoroughly and unapologetically retro. (Hey, that strategy has worked pretty well for the Honda Monkey, hasn't it?) Instead, it was a North American sales disappointment, and was quietly discontinued from our market a couple of years back.
Screengrab of a Suzuki US website search for the Van Van, captured on January 31, 2023. Sadface.
Apparently, the customer that reached out to Slipstream about a pair of custom Van Vans thought that the enhanced dual sport route was the way to go. Not only that, but they wanted a custom build that was largely comprised of bolt-on parts, and easy enough that they could purchase a second kit and assemble it on a second Van Van back home for their daughter.
Most importantly, though, they wanted fat tires on both ends, not just in the rear. Additionally, they wanted those tires to be more capable of actual dual sport riding, so they could hit the trails with confidence.
The factory Suzuki Van Van 200 came with an 18-inch front wheel and a 14-inch rear (and much wider) wheel, which in turn fit a much fatter tire. Thanks to the proportions up front, though, Team Slipstream was able to convert the front to fit a fat 14-inch rear rim with the original front hub, along with the help of some custom stainless steel spokes.
Suzuki VanVan Fat Tire Custom by Slipstream Creations
A bit of black powdercoating and a set of fat dual-sport Bridgestone tires later, and both the looks and functionality met the brief. The ride height remains largely unaffected by this change, says Slipstream.
Plenty of other modifications went into this Van Van, not the least of which was a custom fuel tank setup adapted from some Honda CB360 tanks that the shop had on hand. The lighting is now all LED, the seat is custom, the rear fender, rear subframe, side covers, and more were all custom-made items. There's also the not-insignificant matter of a top-end rebuild with a ported and polished head on the one Van Van that was built in the Slipstream shop.
The resulting bike looks clean, mean, understated, and absolutely not to be underestimated. Here's hoping that the owner and their daughter have an absolute blast on their custom dual sport Van Vans, well into the future.